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Coming in Alibre Design 2011 - Convert to Sheet Metal

Do you have parts that were created in different CAD applications but you want to create native Alibre Design Sheet Metal parts with them? In previous versions of Alibre Design this was a manual and taxing exercise; not so in Alibre Design 2011.

Native Alibre Design Parts or files from a neutral formats (SAT, STP, IGES) can be used directly from the Sheet Metal workspace. If you have files from one of the other major CAD programs, they will first have to be imported into Alibre Design and saved as part files.

Step 1: Open a new Sheet Metal Workspace

For demonstration purposes we will use a part that has been saved in the SAT format. Open a new Sheet Metal workspace and go to Feature > Convert to Sheet Metal (Figure 1). From the Convert to Sheet Metal dialog box, select the Insert button and browse to the location of the file (Figure 2).



Figure 1



Figure 2




Step 2: Creating the Sheet Metal Part

The first task is to select the face that will be used as the tab; Figure 3 shows that the green face as the surface that will be the Tab. Since this part has the main characteristics of a sheet metal part, it has a common thickness and filleted edges, the Replicate Sheet Metal Part option can be used. When this button is clicked, the thickness, flanges, and bend radii are automatically detected and populated in the dialog box.


Figure 3




Click the OK button and you will have a native Alibre Design Sheet Metal part. You may be finished at this point in the process, but there are still some additional items that can be manually tweaked.

Step 3: Making Additional Modifications to the Part

Since this is now a native Sheet Metal part, it can be manipulated using the Sheet Metal tools. Additional flanges, dimples, or cuts can be added, or it can be flattened (Figure 4).


Figure 4




Step 4: Adding Rips

Rips can be added to the end of a flange during the initial creation of the Convert to Sheet Metal part or when the Conversion feature is edited from the Design Explorer. First, select the Use Sketch button and then select the planar surface on the model where you want to place the Rip (Figure 5). Click the Commit Sketch button after your line(s) have been sketched. When you click OK and exit out of the Convert to Sheet Metal dialog box you will have the completed Rip (Figure 6).


Figure 5



Figure 6




Step 5: Additional Information

You may have noticed that the Conversion feature in the Design Explorer is made of a Part Boolean. This means that if the Part Boolean file changes then so will the Converted Sheet Metal part. You can right click on the Design Boolean part and edit the part and those changes will be reflected in the Converted Sheet Metal part.

If you no longer want the parametric association you can right click on the Conversion feature and select Explode. The base part can now be deleted from the Design Explorer (Figure 8). This will also break the flanges into their own individual features which can be edited like a normal Alibre Design Feature.


Figure 7



Figure 8